Last week I took a cross-country trip starting in Virginia and ending in Seattle with my family. What I experienced along the way was something sort of amazing. Honestly I could write a book on my experiences, but I’m going to save some of that for later – what I’m going to talk about right now is the food.
My trip started in Richmond, Virginia with hubby complaining about needing some collard greens to start the journey. I however, wanted to get on the road – we had a long journey in front of us.
We made it about 60 miles before I knew I had to pull over (unless I wanted a mutiny). We landed at Black Jack Soul Food Restaurant.. or should I say Google landed us there.. and we were greeted with smiles, good food and true hospitality. My husband, a cross between Vin Diesel and Ice-T got some funny looks, but the minute he requested ‘anything that goes good with a good plate of collard greens’ the waitress knew she wasn’t going to have a problem.
It was a good start to a long trip that took us through the Middle South, SouthWest and Rockies. All was well until we reached Albuquerque. After days of questionable food, it was time for some good homecooking.
Unfortunately, all we could find was PapaDeaux, a seafood chain that I thought might compare to the fried fish I got in Virginia. While they did have fancy settings, creative seafood dishes, and a kid’s menu, they lacked the hospitality, care, and quality food that we found in the tiny restaurant in Virginia.
We arrived at our hotel that night with no utensils, small portions, and a very big bag of packaging. The next morning we woke up with tummy aches – a great way to spend the next 10 hours driving.
The experience made me think about what good food really means. It doesn’t mean fancy packaging and dimmed lighting. It doesn’t mean waiters with wine service training and themed bathrooms. Good food means warm smiles, welcoming attitudes and food that doesn’t make you sick. Good food is walking into an establishment and feeling like you were at home.
Good food is extra cornbread and extra cold sweet tea.
Somewhere in our society we have lost the meaning of good food and replaced it with convenience and decadence. We look for experiences that feed our egos instead of our souls.
I am thankful that I started my trip with the welcoming staff of Black Jack Soul Food Restaurant. They gave us more than a great plate of fried fish and collards, they gave us soul food.